You might be under the impression that intelligence is a fixed quantity that is set when you are young and unchanging thereafter. But research shows that, if so, you’re wrong. How we approach situations and the things we do to feed our brains can significantly improve our mental horsepower.
That could mean going back to school or filling your bookshelves (or e-reader) with thick tomes on deep subjects, but getting smarter doesn’t necessarily mean a huge commitment of time and energy, according to a recent thread on question-and-answer site Quora.
When a questioner keen on self-improvement asked the community, “What would you do to be a little smarter every single day?” everyone from dedicated meditators to techies and entrepreneurs weighed in with useful suggestions. Which of these 10 ideas could you fit into your daily routine?
1. Be smarter about your online time.
Every online break doesn’t have to be about checking social networks and fulfilling your daily ration of cute animal pics. The web is also full of great learning resources, such as online courses, intriguing TED talks, and vocabulary-building tools. Replace a few minutes of skateboarding dogs with something more mentally nourishing, suggest several responders.
2. Write down what you learn.
It doesn’t have to be pretty or long, but building a few minutes to reflect in writing about what you learned into each day is sure to boost your brainpower. “Write 400 words a day on things that you learned,” suggests yoga teacher Claudia Azula Altucher. Mike Xie, a research associate at Bayside Biosciences, agrees. “Write about what you’ve learned,” he advises.
3. Make a ‘did’ list.
A big part of intelligence is confidence and happiness, so boost both by pausing to list not the things you have yet to do, but all the things you’ve already accomplished. The idea of a “done list” is recommended by famed VC Marc Andreessen as well as Azula Altucher. “Make an I DID list to show all the things you, in fact, accomplished,” she suggests.
4. Get out the Scrabble board.
Board games and puzzles aren’t just fun; they can also be a great way to work out your brain. “Play games (Scrabble, bridge, chess, go, Battleship, Connect Four, doesn’t matter),” suggests Xie (for a ninja-level brain boost try to play without looking at the board to exercise your working memory). “Play Scrabble with no help from hints or books,” concurs Altucher.
5. Have smart friends.
It can be rough on your self-esteem, but hanging out with folks who are more clever than you is one of the fastest ways to learn. “Keep a smart company. Remember your IQ is the average of five closest people you hang out with,” Saurabh Shah, an account manager at Symphony Teleca, writes.
“Surround yourself with smarter people,” agrees developer Manas J. Saloi. “I try to spend as much time as I can with my tech leads. I have never had a problem accepting that I am an average coder at best and there are many things I am yet to learn … Always be humble and be willing to learn.”